LillyGood morning. I want to start out by saying thank you to everyone who has expressed their condolences to me and and my family about the passing of my beloved wife Carina. She passed away on September 11th at the age of 55. Her funeral was on Thursday afternoon, followed by an emotional time of saying goodbye at her grave. Yes, there were tears and great sorrow, but the day was also full of love and warmth. My dear friend Pastor Sven-Gunnar Roos officiated at the service, many of our “spiritual children” helped with the music, and along with an overcrowded church we remembered Carina in a wonderful way.

There were no traditional funeral songs at Carina’s funeral. Instead we listened to and sang along with Carina’s favorite songs, including a few from the Gaither Homecoming Band as well as Carina’s favorite song, “Not quite home”, that starts with the words: “No wonder we feel like we don’t really belong here….We’re not quite home yet…” We could all feel Carina’s presence as we remembered her at the memorial service.

Despite our grief and the emptiness without her, the service was just as Carina would have wanted it. Its theme came from Lynda Randle’s song “One Day,” where she sings: “One day Jesus will call my name.” Just over two weeks ago, Jesus called my beloved Carina’s name, and it was very evident throughout the funeral that, in the end, everything is about eternity. One day Jesus will call my name, and your name too, and that day isn’t always as far away as we sometimes believe.

I preached yesterday for the first time since Carina’s passing. I wasn’t sure how long I would wait. The sore is still open, although it isn’t bleeding quite as much. But I had a word from the Lord, and I believe that you can always preach. Paul says: “Be prepared in season and out of season.” What is important is that you are genuine. If you are a wounded soldier who is recovering, don’t hide it. Pain is a part of life, and life has to be lived. In the same way that we preach all of God’s word, we also have to preach about all aspects of life with Jesus: laughter and joy, as well as tears and pain.

In my new book that will be published this Fall, I write about how important it is that you “don’t pretend.” We have to try to develop our churches in such a way that they are places where you can be who you are. Because if you aren’t who you are, then how can we help each other? How can we bear each other’s burdens? How can we renew our minds and be more like Jesus? Jesus is not going to change who we are pretending to be. He wants to change who you really are.

Finally, we have been receiving cries for help from Nepal, Ukraine and Israel, and we have to respond. Satan is raging in Nepal. After the earthquake, Hindu extremists burned down several churches and we have to do something. The Jews have to get out of Ukraine, and there is a door that has opened to the unsaved Jews in Israel. There is also a door into the Muslim parts of Nigeria. Please join us in praying for this; as you can understand, the needs are great.

Good morning, with love,